The Lutheran Women’s Missionary League (LWML) is the official women’s auxiliary of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. For over 65 years, the LWML has focused on affirming each woman’s relationship with Christ, encouraging and equipping women to live out their Christian lives in active mission ministries and to support global missions.
LWML History Written and submitted by Marlys Taege Moberg – “There’s no question the church is behind you because in so many ways you are ahead of the church.” With those words, a Lutheran historian applauded the progress of the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League (LWML) since its founding in 1942. Its roots, however, go back nearly a century earlier. Beginning in the 1850s, women of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS) – http://www.lcms.org started local auxiliaries to meet the needs of people—mending clothes for seminarians, equipping hospitals, establishing schools, developing convalescent and retirement homes, assisting orphanages and residences for people with disabilities, gathering clothing, furniture and food for indigents, and funding mission endeavors at home and abroad. Not until the 1920s, however, did members of congregational societies begin to coordinate their efforts by uniting in state and regional leagues. Oklahoma was first in 1928, but it took more than a decade before official approval was granted for a national LCMS women’s organization.
The LWML Pledge / Song
In fervent gratitude for the Savior’s dying love and His blood-bought gift of redemption we dedicate ourselves to Him with all that we are and have; and in obedience to His call for workers in the harvest fields, we pledge Him our willing service wherever and whenever He has need of us. We consecrate to our Savior our hands to work for Him, our feet to go on His errands, our voice to sing His praises, our lips to proclaim His redeeming love, our silver and our gold to extend His Kingdom, our will to do His will, and every power of our life to the great task of bringing the lost and the erring into eternal fellowship with Him. Amen.
Lutheran Women, One and All
Lutheran women, one and all, We have heard the Gospel call.
We by faith have seen our Lord Crucified and then restored.
We have seen Him pay the price, For our sins a sacrifice.
Him we Lord and Christ acclaim And unite to praise His name.
Lutheran women, young and old, Well we know His challenge bold:
Help to take the Gospel light To a world in darkest night,
By example in the home, By inviting those who roam,
By our prayers for sinners lost, By our gifts for missions’ cost.
Lutheran women, coast to coast, In the Lord a mighty host,
Let us all united be In the Holy Trinity, One in faith, in hope, and love,
Working for the Lord above, Till, our earthly labors done,
We in heaven shall all be one.
The official colors of the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League are purple and gold. According to the the Southern Illinois Lutheran Woman’s Quarterly Supplement, October 1948, the Southern Illinois district was the first to adopt the colors of purple, symbolizing royalty, and gold, symbolizing value and integrity.
The Mite Box
Based on the Biblical account of the widow’s mite (Luke 21:1-4), the mite box is intended for regular contributions of “mites” – offerings above and beyond the support given to congregation and the LCMS. Mite Box contributions amount to millions of dollars that fund district and national mission grants and implement the LWML program.
LWML Missions – Mite History
The Widow’s Mite Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth, but she, out of her poverty, put in everything – all she had to live on” (Mark 12:41-43).
Mite Boxes – How They Began
Perhaps inspired by the various “cent” or “mite” societies of the early 1800s, the Woman’s Mission to Woman (Baptist) urged members in its first circular letter in 1871 to use their new mite box to raise funds. The entire family was encouraged to contribute. The garnet-colored paper box had an opening on the top and the words, “Woman’s Mission to Woman,” in gold letters on the side.
St. Paul’s Counsel on Giving And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will. So we urged Titus, since he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part. But just as you excel in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us – see that you also excel in this grace of giving (2 Corinthians 8:1-7).
LWML Mite Boxes – Over the years, many Lutheran Ladies Aid societies used a box to gather funds in support of local and synod ministries. Under the original 1928 Lutheran Women’s Missionary Endeavor organizational plan, each woman in every congregation would receive a Mite Box if she participated in the Ladies Aid. Receipts from the 92 Ladies Aid societies totaled $6651.31 in 1930.
The Lutheran Women’s Missionary League, formally recognized by the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod in 1942, required by the newly adopted constitution and bylaws, that 25% of all missionary contributions be given to the national organization, shared from the districts.
At the 1953 convention, delegates reaffirmed the policy of raising funds only through voluntary offerings. Instead of “mite boxes” some societies called their ingathering devices “blessing boxes” or “mission boxes” or “thankoffering boxes.” The first Mite Box design had space for districts to imprint local messages. In publications and speeches, Leaguers were reminded not to just tuck their Mite Box away out of sight and then on the day of the meeting take out a dollar bill, put it in an envelope and hand it to the secretary. Among the suggestions offered were:
Put your pennies in the box at the end of each day
- Say “thank you” with an appropriate amount whenever calamity or misfortune has been averted
- Empty all your loose change from your kitchen coin bowl into the box on meeting day
Throughout the decades, Lutheran women have stepped out in faith, setting goals and trusting God to move the hearts of His people to give generously to LWML to proclaim the Gospel.
Times and Mite Boxes Change – Mite boxes have changed in color and design over the years, but what has never changed is the dedication of freely given offerings for the purpose of reaching out to others with the Good News of Jesus Christ. Districts still retain 75% of mite offerings for the work of the LWML at that level. National mites fund over $1 million in mission grants.